The Wildcats were able to bounce back after a four-game losing streak over the weekend. However, they still find themselves in an unfamiliar position, 6.5 games out of first place in the SEC standings.
Meanwhile, the Commodores earned their second conference win on Saturday over the Mississippi State Bulldogs. They battled hard against the Kentucky Wildcats in their first matchup this season but were edged out 77-74.
Fixture: Kentucky Wildcats vs Vanderbilt Commodores - NCAA Men's Basketball
Date and Time: Wednesday, February 17, 7:00 PM ET
Venue: Memorial Gym, Nashville, Tennessee
Kentucky Wildcats Preview
The Kentucky Wildcats' 82-80 victory over the Auburn Tigers on Saturday night prevented John Calipari from losing five consecutive games for the first time in his 12 years at the school.
The Wildcats saw themselves tied with under five minutes to play, a position in which they ended up choking away the lead the last three times this season. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, they have been outscored by 39 points in the final four minutes coming into the game against Auburn.
Here's what freshman guard Brandon Boston Jr. had to say after the game:
"We needed that a lot, honestly. Just keep fighting every day, every game, all 40 minutes. We’ve just got to start closing out games the way we did today."
The Kentucky Wildcats are feeling good heading into their game against the Vanderbilt Commodores. Still, their inconsistency this season is likely to cost them a position in the tournament even if they are to string together a run in the last month of the regular season.
Key Player - Isaiah Jackson
Isaiah Jackson is the key player for the Kentucky Wildcats. The freshman forward put together a strong all-around performance last time around, producing a season-high 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds on 63% shooting.
Jackson has struggled to transform his game from high school to college this year, but he is still projected to get drafted in the second round if he chooses to declare for the draft.
He struggled in the win against the Vanderbilt Commodores earlier this year, scoring only four points, and will be motivated to redeem his performance on Wednesday night.
Kentucky Wildcats' Predicted Lineup
F Olivier Sarr, F Isaiah Jackson, G Davion Mintz, G Devin Askew, G Brandon Boston Jr.
Vanderbilt Commodores Preview
The Vanderbilt Commodores are coming off their second conference win of the season. They beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs 72-51 in a commanding performance.
The 51 points allowed to the Bulldogs was the third-best defensive performance they have displayed all year. In five out of six wins this season, they have held opponents to under 60 points.
To win back-to-back conference games for the first time this year, the Vanderbilt Commodores will need to slow down the game's pace and keep the Kentucky Wildcats off the perimeter.
Key Player - Scotty Pippen Jr.
Scotty Pippen Jr. has been carrying the Vanderbilt Commodores offensively this season. He is leading the team with 20.2 points and 5.4 assists on 45% shooting.
In the Bulldogs' win on Saturday, he scored 18 points and converted on four of his eight three-point attempts.
For the Vanderbilt Commodores to avoid a regular-season sweep against the Kentucky Wildcats, Pippen Jr. will need to be the best player on the court.
Vanderbilt Commodores' Predicted Lineup
F Clevon Brown, G Dylan Disu, G Maxwell Evans, G Scotty Pippen Jr., G Jordan Wright
Kentucky vs Vanderbilt Match Prediction
Both teams have been extremely inconsistent this season and have struggled to shoot from the perimeter. With Isaiah Jackson and Brandon Boston Jr. both coming off strong performances, the Kentucky Wildcats are likely to pull out a win.
According to ESPN's Basketball Power Index, the Wildcats have a 61.6% chance of beating the Vanderbilt Commodores on Wednesday.
Where to watch Kentucky vs Vanderbilt
The game will be broadcast live on the SEC Network.